Game 49, Indians at Mariners
Roenis Elias vs. Shaun Marcum, 7:10pm
Yesterday’s game was one of the most rewarding of the year. Not only did the M’s win a crucial game against Cleveland, but they played decent defense (until that unfortunate Nelson Cruz bit in the 9th), and watched the best start of Taijuan Walker’s young career. Trevor Bauer was excellent, and made very few mistakes – but Seth Smith punished one, and that was that. That’s two games in a week where the opposing starter’s been excellent, but the M’s did enough to blank the opposition until they broke through for a couple of runs. The M’s offense still isn’t great, but we’re seeing the benefits of HR power. When scoring is low, HRs mean more. Their OBP needs to come up from 27th in baseball, but they haven’t been hapless thanks to how far their hits have travelled.
Before the series, I talked about the Indians issues with balls in play. Their 5th starter certainly hasn’t had to worry about that – not just because this’ll be just his 3rd start of the year, but because he’s allowed comically few balls in play. Shaun Marcum – long-time Blue Jay, traded to Milwaukee for prospect Brett Lawrie, oft-injured journeyman – has faced 58 batters so far, and 27 of those plate appearances have ended in a K, a walk, or a HR. Lots of three true outcomes can be great for a pitcher. Craig Kimbrel‘s 2011 saw an astonishing 53% of his PAs end in a K, BB or HR. But it’s only astonishing if you get a whole lot of the GOOD “true” outcome, and less of the bad ones. Marcum’s been a bit more inclusive. In 14+ innings, he’s already yielded 5 HRs, and 6 walks. His 16 Ks are pretty remarkable for a righty with a fastball that struggles to touch 88, but it’s hard to celebrate that run of whiffishness when your FIP is pushing 7.
Marcum’s been a valuable guy when he’s healthy. He missed all of 2009 with TJ surgery, then came back in 2010-11 with a pair of 3+WAR seasons, one with Toronto and the other with Milwaukee. After signing a one-year deal with the Mets in 2013, he suffered horrific sequencing luck that led to a 1-10 record, and then more horrific health luck, missing much of 2013 and all of 2014 recuperating from Thoracic Outlet syndrome surgery. After a solid April in the Indians’ minor leagues, he’s replaced the ineffective TJ House and Bruce Chen in the Tribe’s rotation. If you remember Marcum for anything, it’s probably his excellent change-up. Easily his best pitch, he disguises his arm angle very well, and has a career whiff/swing rate approaching 40% on it – and that’s after throwing thousands of them. He’ll throw it to righties and lefties alike, but lefties see a ton of them, and they’ve consistently struggled with it. So does he, like quite a few change-up artists, have reverse platoon splits? No, because his fastball has proven as hittable as his change is deceptive. Lefties are slugging .510 against his four-seamer in Marcum’s career. He went to a sinker for a while, but they are slugging .667 off that, so he scrapped it. Now, he’s primarily a four-seam/change/cutter guy, with lefties getting mostly cambios and righties seeing cutters.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Smith, DH
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Miller, SS
9: Ackley, LF
Welcome back to the line-up, Robby Cano, and welcome back to the team, Joe Beimel. Lucas Luetge takes the I-5 shuttle back to Tacoma.
Tacoma beat Round Rock 5-3, but still had to withstand another shaky 9th inning. Sam Gaviglio attempted to go for his first pro complete game, but after getting into trouble, the R’s brought in Danny Farquhar, who promptly allowed an inherited runner to score, then gave up a 2R HR of his own before getting the final two outs. Shawn O’Malley had 3 hits for the R’s, who survived a forgettable night by the middle of their order. Today, Forrest Snow gets his 6th start – he’s been excellent in his first five.
Jackson lost to Montgomery 4-3 in 12 innings last night. Jake Zokan was solid in 4+ innings, and the Generals scored 3 on Biscuits starter and former big-time draft prospect Ryne Stanek (whom the M’s drafted in the 3rd round in 2011, but he didn’t sign, opting to go to Arkansas). The Generals were rained out today.
Visalia topped Bakersfield 6-2 yesterday, as Ryan Yarbrough struggled again, giving up 6 R in 6 IP. Tyler O’Neill had 2 hits in a losing effort. Dan Altavilla starts tonight.
Clinton lost to Cedar Rapids 6-1, but it was still a good night. Brazilian lefty Luiz Gohara made his 2015 debut and threw 5 shutout innings, with a walk and a punchout. Nelson Ward had two doubles for the L-Kings, but their bullpen imploded in the 6th. Tonight, Lukas Schiraldi faces off with Zach Tillery of Cedar Rapids.